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OriginOil’s Algae Harvesting Systems Heading to Japan

August 30, 2012
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

OriginOil, Inc’s. research partner in Japan has reported receiving government funding for an ambitious algae biofuels program to provide renewable fuels and help eliminate radioactive materials, for which it intends to use OriginOil algae harvesting technology.

Dr. Takaaki Maekawa, President of the Research Institute of Tsukuba Bio-tech (RITB), has confirmed receiving grant approval from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) to build one-acre sites to prove biofuels production and toxic remediation using algae. Dr. Maekawa has made plans to employ OriginOil algae harvesting technology in programs funded by this grant and by private investors, potentially expanding to 100 sites or more.

“We are excited to be working with OriginOil on a major algae production program that also has the strategic support of our Agriculture Ministry,” said Dr. Maekawa. “It is our intention that more than a hundred algae production sites in Japan will include OriginOil technology.”

“We are delighted that our longtime collaborator, Doctor Maekawa, has succeeded in receiving major funding approval for these strategic algae initiatives,” said Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil CEO. “We intend to put all available resources to work to help him alleviate the energy and environmental crises afflicting the people of Japan.”

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the Japanese government has made the development of renewable energy a top budgetary priority. The Fiscal Year 2013 budget has placed no limit on reconstruction expenses following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Algae production has the unique potential to both provide renewable fuels and also help eliminate radioactive materials from contaminated lands.

In numerous studies, algae has been shown to absorb radioactive cesium, a contaminant that can cause radiation sickness and death. In a recent test by the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), a strain of microalgae successfully removed nearly 90% of all radioactive material from cesium-contaminated water.

A respected algae researcher, Dr. Maekawa is Professor Emeritus at Tsukuba University near Tokyo. In 2009, his company signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OriginOil to develop and distribute algae systems in Japan. With the new funding, he plans to collaborate closely with OriginOil to integrate its harvesting technology into the new systems.

According to Doctor Maekawa, the Ministry has approved initial funding for two initial sites, each more than an acre in size. One is planned near Narita International Airport and the other in Fukushima, site of the March 2011 nuclear accident. After proving is complete, the program could potentially expand to over 100 sites throughout Japan.

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